Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Currently Reading...

A few weeks ago I went to the library across town. I don't go their often, as it's not only all the way across town, there's no easy way to get there. It's a small library, but they have a fantastic mystery section. So every once in a while I head out and stock up-getting more books than I can possibly read, and renew, renew, renew. That being said, I'm reading my way through those books, before I start the ones in my own library.

I'm currently reading Bitter Harvest by Sheila Connolly. This book is the 5th in the Orchard Mystery series. Meg Connolly lives in Granford, Massachusetts, attempting to make a go of an old apple orchard. The apples have been harvested and a winter storm is approaching as the novel opens.

Don't forget to read my previous blog post, The Coffeehouse Mystery Series, and leave a comment on that post. One reader will be randomly chosen to win an autographed copy of Holiday Buzz by Cleo Coyle. Comment by midnight (Eastern Standard Time) December 2 (that's Saturday night/Sunday morning) 2012 to be eligible.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Coffeehouse Mystery Series

Coffee has its own culture. The inviting coffeehouse with comfy seating, mood music, and knowledgeable baristas welcomes you in. You hear about needing that morning cup of coffee, we know all about coffee breaks, and who hasn't heard of Starbucks?! It is all around us. Coffee is a part of life for millions, probably billions, of people worldwide.

I admit it, I don't like coffee. However, that doesn't stop me from loving the Coffeehouse Mystery series by Cleo Coyle.

Clair Cosi had a job she loved and was happy with her husband and daughter. Drugs and a question of fidelity caused Clair to leave her husband and career in New York City to raise her daughter in New Jersey. Years go by and our series opens. Clair's indomitable ex-mother-in-law has hired her to run her historic coffeehouse, The Village Blend, in Greenwich Village in New York City. Since this is a mystery series, a murder soon occurs and Clair begins to investigate. On What Grounds is the book that introduces us to Clair Cosi and begins the series.

Throughout the series we learn that Madame, Clair's ex-mother-in-law and owner of the Village Blend, would like nothing better than for Clair and Matteo (her son) to get back together and has a few schemes to help them out. Thanks to the murders (it is a series, after all) Clair gets to know NYPD detective Mike Quinn...and their meetings become not entirely professional. Clair and Matteo's daughter has also grown up and is facing life decisions of her own. Through it all, coffee plays a major role; in the background, in the setting, and at times, in the mystery itself.

In addition to coffee tips, author Cleo Coyle (who is actually the husband-wife team of  Marc Cerasini and Alice Alfonsi) also shares wonderful recipes in each book. After all, what's a cup of coffee without a delightful pastry to go with it!

If you're looking for a character driven series with atmosphere, you've found the right place. The Coffeehouse Mystery series welcomes you to the Village Blend, tempting you with special coffee and desserts. As you read, you find yourselves becoming friends with the characters. You want to know more about these people and as you progress through the series you learn more and become more involved. The Village Blend welcomes you and I welcome you to give this series a try.

There are currently 11 entries in the Coffeehouse series with the 12th being released this Tuesday, December 4, 2012. In honor of this latest release Cleo Coyle has graciously donated an autographed copy of Holiday Buzz (Coffeehouse Mystery #12) to a reader of Cozy Up With Kathy. Would you like to win this book? All you have to do is leave a comment on this post. You have until midnight, December 2, 2012 (that's Saturday night/Sunday morning). At that time, I'll randomly choose one winner and announce it for that day's blog.

In the meantime, grab a cup of coffee and a Coffeehouse mystery and enjoy!

To learn more about Cleo Coyle check out her website:
You can also find her at on Tuesdays.
Twitter: @CleoCoyle (

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Currently Reading...

I'm just about to start Naughty in Nice by Rhys Bowen. We travel back in time to the early 1930's in this, the 5th installment in the Royal Spyness mysteries.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Green Thumb

I have garden designs in my head. I love pouring through seed catalogs, gardening magazines, and Pinterest, looking at all the lovely plants and imagining them in my yard. While I enjoy reading and dreaming about my garden, I don't actually do much with it. Sadly, I tend to neglect my houseplants and most die of thirst. As for the yard, I tend to let things fend for themselves. Perhaps that's why I enjoy the gardening cozy mystery. I get to think about the garden while others do all the work!

Gardening cozies feature, of course, gardeners. Most are professionals working as landscape designers, florists, or people having other, similar careers. Many of these books also include gardening tips.

Looking for an educated look at plants? Want a unique gardening shop in which to putter around? Check out The Peggy Lee Garden mysteries by Joyce and Jim Lavene. Peggy Lee is a botanist who owns a garden shop in Charlotte, North Carolina.

I love the scent that engulfs you when you enter a florist shop. If you can't make it to your local florist, why not try a fictional one? Kate Collins pens the Flower Shop mysteries. Set in New Chapel, Indiana the series features Abby Knight, owner of Bloomers Florists. Bretta Solomon also owns a flower shop, the Flower Shop, in River City, Missouri in the series by Janis Harrison.

Nina Quinn is a landscape designer with a difference-she does surprise garden makeovers in the Nina Quinn mystery series by Heather Webber.

In Virginia, near Washington DC we find Louise Eldridge, an organic gardener who becomes the host of a PBS gardening show on TV in the series by Ann Ripley. While Louise is close to Washington DC and politics (her husband is a CIA agent) Casey Calhoun is even closer. She's a gardener for the White House in The White House Gardener mysteries by Dorothy St. James.

Garden Clubs are great ways for gardeners to get together. They're also a way to find murderers. Alisa Craig gives us the Grub-and-Stakers series which takes place in Lobelia Falls, Ontario, Canada while Susan Wittig Albert takes us back to the 1930's in Darling, Alabama with the Darling Dahlias.

As outdoor gardening is coming to a close for the season, at least in my part of the world, now is the perfect time to pick up a gardening mystery. I hope you'll give one a try!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Currently Reading...

I'm coming to the conclusion of Death on a Platter by Elaine Viets. This book is the 7th entry in the Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper series. Josie is a single mom with a who lives in the lower flat of her mom's house in Maplewood, St. Louis. Josie works as a mystery shopper, rating different types of businesses. In this book Josie has to rate restaurants serving traditional St. Louis fare for a food tour. In addition to enjoying the book, I also learned some facts about St. Louis food. Shopping tips are also included.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Years ago I didn't follow too many mystery series. I'd read the latest and then anguish for a year until the next installment was published. That was then. This is now. I follow too many series with great new ones I'd like to try continually popping up.

One of the problems I face is time. There's simply not enough time to read everything I want before new books are published. It also seems that some series are published more than once a year. That's great when you really want to know what happens next. Not so great when you discover you can't possibly keep up!

More and more cozy mysteries also seem to be published. There's something for everyone. If you have as many interests as I do, this spells trouble.

Knowing how important it is for the first book in the series to do well, I've recently bought many "First in the Brand New Series" books...but if I keep buying them, what happens when the second and third books come out of the series I bought first? Honestly, some get forgotten. Then I see the title mentioned and I realize I'm a book or two behind. Especially when I don't start the series as soon as it's published.

There's also the "missing book" issue. Since I can't afford to buy all the books I read, I rely on the library. However, they oftentimes don't have all the books in the series-so I get stuck, since I read them in order. That's what happened to me with a few series I really like.

There are sooooo many series I follow I sometimes get them confused. I was reading one book when one of the secondary characters did something out character. Then I realized that I was thinking of a character with the same name...but in a different series!

I recently went to the library to try to play catch up with a few series. While I got some books I needed...I also picked up a few "first in the new series"...some which also had the second book as well. I guess I'll never learn...or catch up.

With so many new books being written, almost all of which are great reads, I sometimes wonder if it's too much of a good thing. But I'll happily keep reading.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Beef Stolen-Off, the second installment of the Clueless Cook mysteries by Liz Lipperman. Jordan seems to be a bit more food knowledgeable this least so far. She knows what Kobe beef is (whereas she didn't have a clue about fois gras last time!) Recipes are included.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Make 'Em Laugh

Beef Stolen-Off, Last Wool and Testament, Threaded for Trouble, with so many punny titles, it's natural that you can find humor in a lot of cozy mysteries. It makes sense since cozies are a "kindler, gentler, mystery". Not to say to don't find humor in darker genres as well. Some authors lighten things up so that you're less prepared when the big nasty arrives. There's also black comedy, Sweeney Todd and Harold and Maude are great musical and cinematic examples.

Humor makes life fun and interesting and I love when mysteries are able to make me laugh as well. While humor can be found everywhere, there are some cozies that just flaunt it. Don't underestimate these books.  While fun is front and center, characterization and plot are not forgotten. The mystery is still there. While some may be categorized in different subgenres as well, these laugh out loud books all belong to another one of my subgenres-the humor cozy.

One of the funniest books I've read is Alpine for You, the first Passport to Peril mystery by Maddy Hunter and she continues to make me laugh in each new installment. Emily Andrew, her grandmother, and a group of senior citizens from Iowa travel the world in this delightful series.

It should come as no surprise that Laura Levine writes a very funny series. After all, she was a writer for The Bob Newhart Show, Laverne and Shirley and other sitcoms. The Jaine Austen series takes us to Los Angeles where we meet freelance writer Jaine Austen and her cat Prozac.

Jeffrey Cohen brings mysteries and movies together in his Double Feature series. Elliot Freed owns the Comedy Tonight movie cinema-you guessed it-all comedy movies.

Bubbles Yablonsky is a hair dresser striving to be a journalist in Lehigh, Pennsylvania in the Bubbles Books by Sarah Stohmeyer. I still giggle about her attending Two Guys Community College. (Anyone of a certain age from this part of the country will know why.)

If you're looking for laughs along with murder be sure to check out these series.